It appears that WingspanBank.com, which Bank One Corp. launched with a lot of fanfare two years ago and announced last week that it was shutting down, will have few mourners.
The Chicago companys stock rose 52 cents Thursday, the day it announced it had decided to pull the plug on the Internet bank, to close at $35.52 a share, and closed Friday at $35.80. And several Bank One analysts interviewed by American Banker were as indifferent to Wingspans demise as investors were.
Part of the difficulty in measuring the impact of Wingspan is that Bank One has released very little information about how the Internet bank performed, other than to say it had 225,000 accounts at the beginning of the year.
In regulatory filings, the parent lumped Wingspan in with the rest of its retail banking division, making it impossible to determine, for instance, how much Wingspan had in deposits or how profitable it was.
They spent a lot of money, but theyve managed to obscure the numbers pretty well, said Jon G. Arfstrom, an analyst at Dain Rauscher Wessels in Minnesota.
Bank One has said it spent $100 million to $150 million on Wingspan in its first year of operation and somewhat less than that in its second year, but a company spokesman said it did not break out Wingspans financials from the rest of the company, and it has no plans to do so now.
Bank One has been tight-lipped about Wingspan because they dont want to admit how much they spent, said Christopher W. Marinac, an analyst at Robinson-Humphrey Co. in Atlanta. The company probably did not spend much during Wingspans second year of operations, so those incremental costs shouldnt have an effect on Bank Ones bottom line, he said.
But Jennifer Thompson, an analyst at Putnam Lovell Securities, said there is nothing fuzzy about the lack of figures being offered by Bank One.
You really dont see most of the larger banks breaking out their Internet banking operations, so I dont think its unusual that theyre not breaking it out, Ms. Thompson said. Though certainly it would go a long way toward improving the visibility of what actually happened with this investment.
In the absence of hard data, some analysts have used some creative ways to rank Internet banks.
James Van Dyke, a senior analyst at Jupiter MediaMetrix, said two measures that can be used to rank Wingspan against its peers are how many unique visitors used the site over a certain period and how long they stayed there.
Wingspan had 239,000 unique visitors to its site in May, a poor showing compared with its peers. NetBank Inc., of Alpharetta, Ga., had 1.18 million visitors. Juniper Financial Corp., the Wilmington, Del., venture started by former Wingspan executives Richard W. Vague and James Stewart, had 384,000; E-Trade Bank had 260,000.
Wingspans tally was particularly weak considering that bankone.com, the online face of the parent company, had 728,000 unique visitors.
However, Wingspan fared better in another measurement: the average number of minutes per month customers spent on the site, which Mr. Van Dyke said is an indicator of how wedded a consumer is to the site and how deep the relationship goes. In May its customers spent an average of 11.8 minutes at the site, compared with 19.7 minutes for customers of bankone.com, 4.3 for E-Trade Bank, and 3.7 for Juniper.
One indication that Bank One was not spending much money lately on Wingspan came from Sanchez Computer Associates Inc. of Malvern, Pa., which held a technology outsourcing contract for Wingspan.
Sanchez issued a news release Thursday saying that its relationship with Wingspan will end as a result of Bank Ones decision to close it. The loss of WingspanBank.com as a client will not have a material impact on Sanchez earnings or revenues, it said.